Judge changes mind after victim’s son and two policemen accept relief paid by convicts

In a significant decision, the Madras High Court Bench here has confirmed the conviction imposed by a lower court on two convicts in an attempt-to-murder case but commuted their sentence on the ground that they had arrived at a compromise with the complainants, including two policemen on night rounds, and paid compensation to them.

Commuting the sentence from five years of rigorous imprisonment to less than two years, which the convicts had already undergone, Justice P.N. Prakash recorded the contention of the convicts’ counsel that sending them back to prison, after 12 years of the incident, for undergoing the remaining part of the sentence would only “reopen the old wounds.”

The incident dates back to June 1, 2002 when the convicts — Dharmendran and Alagendran — of Melur Taluk near here had trespassed into the house of a co-villager at around 3.30 a.m. with the intention of murdering him due to previous animosity. They attacked the villager Mondi with two machetes and inflicted grievous injuries on his left arm, hip and wrist.

However, when the victim raised an alarm, his son M. Dhanushkodi rushed to his aid. Immediately, the duo took to their heels and on hearing the noise Head Constable Krishnan and Grade-I constable Thirunavukarasu, who were on night rounds, attempted to catch the assailants. But they fled from the scene of occurrence after inflicting minor cut injuries on the policemen.

A case was registered on the basis of a complaint lodged by the Head Constable and the accused were arrested on June 3, 2002. After trial, a Sessions Court here convicted them on February 9, 2007 and the appellants preferred the present appeal in that year itself. Pending adjudication of the appeal, their sentences were suspended through an interim order and they were enlarged on bail.

Taking up the case for final disposal now, Mr. Justice Prakash held that the lower court had rightly convicted the appellants for the offences committed by them. Though their counsel pleaded to let off the convicts with the sentence they had already undergone (less than two years), the judge said that they should be sentenced to at least three years of rigorous imprisonment.

“The sentence policy should not be basically retributive but the Courts should also bear in mind that flea-bite sentences cannot be ordered for offences of this nature,” the judge said.

However, he changed his mind when Mr. Dhanushkodi, son of Mondi (since dead), appeared before him and accepted a compensation of Rs.40,000 offered by the convicts under Section 357 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The two policemen, presently working as Special Sub Inspectors of Police at Karuppayurani police station here and the Q branch, too accepted a compensation of Rs.10,000 each.

The judge ordered the Superintendents of Police concerned to enter the court’s appreciation for them in their service records.

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